Calories and Kilowatts – It’s Fitness Season!

January 15, 2018

With a fresh new year in front of us, it’s time for the annual barrage of weight loss advertising.

Diet plans. Gym memberships. Low calorie foods. Exercise equipment.

You name it, it’s out there ready and waiting for those who overindulged during the holidays.

But even when you set specific weight loss goals—say shedding 20 pounds—it can be difficult to successfully implement a plan that meets appropriate, defined objectives. Most people just want to weigh less.

Businesses are also concerned about calorie counting, but instead of stepping on a scale they look at utility bills that measure their facilities’ energy output in kilowatt hours (kWh). They know that reducing energy output can significantly lower operating expenses and help achieve sustainability goals. But, like the New Year’s dieter who debates the added expense of a gym membership, businesses want to make sure they can get the largest return on investment in the shortest amount of time.

That’s when the focus for many businesses shifts to energy efficient lighting. Since lighting consumes 10% of the energy in an average commercial building, it’s a logical place to trim the fat.

While businesses may have a clear end goal in mind, achieving them can be challenging. In my role as design manager at EMC, I love helping clients who want turnkey assistance with everything from analysis and planning, to implementation and maintenance.

In many ways, it’s like we’re the gym trainer you’ve hired to help you get into shape. The comprehensive approach turnkey lighting and controls providers like EMC take includes:

  1. Assessing your current operations. Like the trainer who first documents your weight, body fat and muscle mass before starting you on a program, we evaluate your current operations. Our in-house Audit Team conducts site-by-site surveys, considering everything from fixture type and quantity, to space usage, task type and schedules.
  2. Designing a plan specific to you. Combining the audit information, utility incentives, and the desired outcomes you have identified, we create not just more energy efficient and affordable lighting systems, but ones that optimize each environment.

    It’s like a weight loss program that includes the right combination of calorie-burning activities you are able to do and the healthy food you are willing to eat. We dive deep into the nitty gritty of the lighting specs—efficacy, distributions, lumen output, color temperature—from hundreds of manufacturers to find the ones that best help you achieve your desired results.
  3. Helping you achieve your goals. Financial objectives like achieving energy savings or sustainability goals are what drives a lighting and controls project. Will you lose 20 pounds on the program? Will you achieve the project payback time period you desire? Fortunately, once your lighting retrofit is completed, the savings largely take care of themselves.

    EMC helps analyze lighting retrofit opportunities, and prioritize your portfolio to maximize your investment.
  4. Making you look and feel better. With weight loss there is a difference between merely losing weight and losing weight plus gaining some muscle definition. If you are going to make the effort, you want to look good when you achieve it.

    So much of what we do with lighting and controls projects is based on ROI and energy savings, but something that’s often overlooked by prospective customers is the improvements in the quality of the light in their space. An important question you should be asking is, “In addition to meeting the energy savings and sustainability goals, what aesthetic opportunities will this afford us?”

    This is a prime opportunity to improve the quality of the space, to not only save money but create places were customers enjoy being and workers feel most focused and productive.

We help you do this by considering attributes like color temperature, CRI, light distribution, and fixture layout in addition to performance. We can design to corporate standards, or provide guidance using industry standards for any task or purpose.

Need motivation? All the weight loss advertising would be for naught if it weren’t for success stories. Grocery store magazines publish “Half Their Size” feature stories throughout the month of January. So here’s ours: a US defense contractor worked with us to upgrade their aging lighting in a manufacturing facility.

Their cost of energy was moderate, so the high bay fixtures we specified were chosen for their balance of efficacy and cost. However, the fixtures happened to have a modular design that provided a futuristic, industrial aesthetic the customer said made their facility feel modern again.

There are few investments you can make that make everything in the space look better, but lighting is one of them. In addition, changing flooring or painting the walls are sunk costs, but an investment in new LED lighting will continue to deliver the savings.


Ben Wright is manager of design for EMC. In this role he ensures that lighting projects are analyzed not just as energy reduction opportunities, but as opportunities to improve the spaces we live and work. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Design from Montana State University – School of Architecture.